You can check out anytime you like … but you can never leave
A short note on CCP fear of CCP members in Hubei Province –
From several sources comes information that Hubei Provincial CCP is demanding to hold passports from midlevel CCP members and above, even long after retirement. Current retirement age for men is 60; 55 for women. Lots of CCP members have family or kids in the US. If they cannot get approval to seek a visa, they can never see their families. That's a long time to be barred from direct family contact.
An 80 year-old CCP member was recently denied his passport to see his son in Hong Kong, presumably for fear that the man would then leave China permanently once in Hong Kong.
It has been customary for more than a decade now for the human resources department to hold passports for midlevel CCP members, and the zuzhibu organization department to hold passports for higher level leaders. Any relevant department could object to giving a passport back to the individual, but generally that has not been a problem. Hubei right now is different.
Related is a story, also from Hubei, of a CCP member whose daughter just had a baby in the US. The grandmother has been in Florida for a few weeks to take care of her daughter and granddaughter, and would like to spend another six or eight weeks here. She had approval from her danwei, her work unit; but the provincial jiwei, the discipline inspection group, cancelled the permission at the last moment. Now, the new grandmother must return to China immediately – of course, at much higher plane fare for a short notice reservation, and with no guarantee of when she can go back to see her granddaughter.
I don’t have any information that these heavily restrictive policies are operating in Hangzhou or Shanghai. Hubei officials have generally been particularly rabid supporters of whatever the center wants. All officials will seek to go beyond what the center wants if they think it will benefit them personally. The current Hubei party leader, Wang Menghui, seems poised for a promotion. He has had lots of increasingly prominent positions, moving every few years to a higher status. He is 63 years old, which means he has four or five years to climb the ladder before forced retirement (if that still pertains, now that Xi has circumvented that policy).
Hotel California has a certain decadent appeal, even if suggesting hopelessness. No such decadent appeal to staying in Hubei Province.